Guns in the Condominium: Rights and Restrictions

We recently examined an interesting question – can an association prohibit co-owners from bringing firearms to meetings of members held in the common elements? There is no case law specifically confirming the answer to this question, but this kind of rule or restriction would likely be defensible if challenged in court. The published legal scholarship…

Details

Special Ethics Considerations for Community Association Lawyers

In the practice of community association law, attorneys face special ethical considerations with respect to representation of community association clients and the attorney’s relationship with community association management companies. Certain attorneys may receive a large portion of their business through referrals from one or two management companies, and if a dispute arises between one of…

Details

The Five “INs” to Consider About Community Association Legal Counsel

As I have preached for so many years, boards of directors of community associations sometimes think that their job is to spend as little money at whatever cost. This carries over to the retention of legal counsel, and sometimes, their decision is prompted by a misguided simple comparison of billing rates alone and/or an affiliation…

Details

Board Members Expected to Have Thick Skin

Contentious elections of an association’s board of directors can result in some serious allegations against candidates being communicated to an association’s members. “The board is wasting our money!” “He’s lazy and doesn’t want to do anything!” “She’s horrible at this!” While board members and candidates may feel wronged by inaccurate or false statements, they should…

Details

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, No, It’s a Drone!

With the exponential rise in the popularity of drones (technically referred to as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”) over the past few years for personal use, as well as current testing by businesses like Amazon for commercial delivery to residences, the federal government and many states, including our state government in Michigan, have taken the first steps…

Details

Condo Co-owner Magician Failed to Impress in Icy Slip-Fall Case

Although Michigan’s winter of 2016-2017 has been relatively mild so far, this is usually the season when attorneys see an increase in slip and fall accident claims due to snow and ice. However, Michigan case law that developed over the past few years makes it increasingly clear that individuals are generally responsible for their safety as pedestrians,…

Details

3 Reasons Your Community Association Assessments Are Too Low

When we speak with directors and other leaders from Michigan community associations, especially those from homeowners associations and subdivisions, we hear some common refrains when discussing the inadequacy of their regular monthly assessment/dues amounts. The Board may be fully aware that income is not sufficient to meet projected future costs, but for many reasons, the…

Details

The 10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring Community Association Management

Most management companies recognize that in this dog-eat-dog world, marketing and advertising are extremely important in order to attract community association clients. In the old days, it was always the cheapest management company that had a leg up on getting the account. Nowadays, community associations tend to be more sophisticated in deciding which management company…

Details

Are You Observing Constitutional Rights in Disciplinary Hearings?

Boards of directors of community associations (and, unfortunately, even the attorneys advising them) will sometimes mistakenly believe that co-owners are not entitled to certain Constitutional rights of due process with respect to disciplinary hearings. They might warn a co-owner not to bring their attorney to a hearing or not allow an owner to cross-examine witnesses,…

Details

When the Inmates Take Over the Asylum and a Good Board Loses Control

Those of us who have been involved in representing community associations (in my case, for over forty-five years) have, no doubt, experienced a situation where so-called dissidents in a community association, for clearly irrational reasons, strive to seize control of the association so they can further their “platform”, which frequently leads to the demise of…

Details

Opting Out of Condo Association Audit Requirements – Good or Bad?

Michigan condominium associations with annual revenues greater than $20,000 are required under the Michigan Condominium Act to submit their financial records for an annual audit or review by a Certified Public Accountant. However, many condominium associations do not know that the co-owners may vote to opt out of this requirement on an annual basis, by…

Details

Nonprofit Corporation Act changes harm condo associations

Michigan residents who live in condo/homeowner/cooperative associations and fair-minded lawyers who have ties or dealings with nonprofit corporations were recently dealt a serious blow by lawmakers. Significant changes were made to the Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act (the “Act”) during a lame-duck session of the Legislature. Although some changes can be viewed as positive, as a…

Details

Tips on How to Handle Disputes With the Condominium Developer

A. DON’T DO IT YOURSELF Turn the matter over to your experienced community association attorney – otherwise, you will be outgunned and outsmarted, as most developers are sophisticated businesspeople with an army of lawyers. B. DETERMINE WHAT MAY BE AT ISSUE Circulate a questionnaire to all co-owners regarding construction defects and other problems. If the defects…

Details

On the Board: Legal Aid

By Robert M. Meisner, Esq. Listen up, board members: The community association attorney does not work for you. The attorney is accountable to the entity that hired him or her, namely the community association itself. The board members govern the association, but they are not the client. Some community association board members believe the association…

Details
Ethics

Condominium Boards and Ethics: The top 5 reasons that your Association needs a Code of Conduct

Condominium associations are largely governed by volunteer directors that receive little training with respect to their fiduciary duties and potential ethical issues that they may face. Each director has a fiduciary duty of care and duty of loyalty to act in the best interest of the association.  Unfortunately, many directors blur the lines between what…

Details
Bylaws

What are the top 5 signs that your Condominium Documents need to be amended in Michigan?

It is the responsibility of the Board to enforce the Master Deed and Bylaws. MCL 559.190 allows for the Condominium Bylaws to be amended based upon a vote of 2/3 of the Co-Owners.  In certain circumstances identified in MCL 559.190a, mortgagee approval is also required to amend the condominium documents.  Many Associations run into problems…

Details

The Top 3 Roadblocks Preventing Your Condominium Association From Obtaining FHA Certification

*This article may not reflect current changes being made by FHA which are in the process of being finalized by FHA at this time. Contact us to confirm current requirements. An FHA loan allows a buyer to purchase a condominium with a smaller down payment, and in some instances, at lower interest rates.  A purchaser can…

Details

Who is the Developer of my Condominium?

The Michigan Condominium Act, specifically MCL 559.106(2), defines a “Developer” of a Michigan Condominium as follows: (2) “Developer” means a person engaged in the business of developing a condominium project as provided in this act. Developer does not include any of the following (a) A real estate broker acting as agent for the developer in…

Details
EV

3 Tips for Handling a Co-Owner’s request to install an Electric Vehicle Charging Station

1. Review the Condominium Documents. An electric vehicle charging station (EVCS) will likely need to be located on the common elements or be hooked up to common elements. The condominium documents almost always require Board approval before a co-owner can make a modification to the common elements. The Board should review the condominium documents to determine…

Details
i-constructionlaw

A Roadmap to Discovering and Resolving Common Element Construction Defects

The improving real estate market has resulted in decreased home inventories, which has created an increased demand for new construction condominiums. Many potential purchasers will look to buy new construction condominium units with the expectation that the general common elements will be free from construction defects.  This expectation often arises from two common myths.  First,…

Details

Community Associations: What Questions Should You Ask to Find the Truth About the Real Cost of Legal Services?

By Robert Meisner Frequently, we are asked about what questions a Condo Board should ask to find out the truth about the real cost of legal services, as some attorneys may try to brand some competitors as “expensive” in order to discourage condominium associations from hiring that firm. I thought it would be a good idea, therefore, to discuss…

Details
Condo Hotel

Don’t take a vacation from the additional regulations that apply to Condominium Hotels

Michigan has been blessed with the Great Lakes which has resulted in numerous condominium projects being developed on or near the water that are intended for daily or weekly use by temporary occupants. These condominium projects are often referred to as “Condominium Hotels”, “Resort Condominiums”, “Condotels” or “Vacation Condominiums” despite the fact that the Michigan…

Details

Saving the Manager from Liability

By Robert Meisner By giving property managers the power to oversee a community, they become potentially liable to persons who may be injured, or for property that may be damaged. Consequently, property managers are often named as defendants in premises liability and other lawsuits. Therefore, it is imperative that property managers understand their potential for…

Details

Collecting Assessments

By Robert Meisner As I have often told the participants in my seminars, collecting assessments is the lifeblood of the Association. First and foremost, the Association should have a written collection policy in conformity with its condominium documents which would outline when assessments will be deemed to be due, when various late charge notices will…

Details

How to Tell If Your Condominium Documents Need Updating

By Robert Meisner and M. Katherine Michael I. Significant Advantages to Having Updated Governing Documents. The documents of a Condominium Project establish the Condominium Project from a legal (title) standpoint, and create the framework for the governance of the Condominium Project. A properly governed Condominium Project can significantly enhance Unit re-sale marketability and real estate…

Details

Defending the Condominium Developer

A condominium association’s board of directors, which is responsible for administering the affairs of the association, is initially appointed by the developer until a certain number of units is sold. When the owners of the individual units (called “co-owners”) take control of the board, they may conduct financial and physical audits, and those audits may…

Details